I recently read an intriguing article on the shortcomings of traditional networking, titled “A professor explains why networking is a waste of time and what you should be doing instead”. In the article, the author argues that the traditional idea of networking being touted across corporate America and universities-wide is ineffective and cheap. One reason people hate networking is because they’re fully aware that their motivations are selfish. Instead, the author proposes that people approach new connections and relationships with the intention and mindset of serving. This mindset of service, as the author asserts, can have a meaningful impact on attitude, effectiveness, and overall success. In the article, the author briefly expounds on five main supports for his thesis: that serving erases conflict, creates purpose, creates value for all involved, provides material success, and in no small fashion, changes the world. Certainly, humility and compassion can have a unique impact; they are virtues not often associated with business dealings. But how unique is this author's idea?
Well, we found a Harvard Business Review article from a couple years back, titled “Learn to Love Networking”. It too discusses the trouble that many people have when networking is feeling like they’re using people. And with a somewhat similar solution as the first article discussed, this one would suggest a shifted attitude and approach, recognizing that others can benefit from your contributions to the relationship. The authors have four main points they very eloquently discuss: focus on learning, find shared interests, be creative in what you have to offer, and develop a “big picture” goal you’re working towards. We enjoyed reading the point that people generally like to help others. So, when a junior employee forms a relationship with a more successful person, the utility is likely positive in more than one direction. The article also points out that people like receiving praise and gratitude, so be sure to recognize where it’s due and act on it (you don’t want that carefully built network to come down crashing down).
In our profession, having established, meaningful relationships is paramount to success. We pride ourselves with having the best-of-the-best in our business network. Our relationships with our clients are also incredibly important, not only for the success of our deals, but also in providing future business. These singular client relationships can quickly have multiplying impact in the public forum (aka social media). While we already try to frame our work with the service mindset, we’ve learned some new things to incorporate and put into practice upon our next visit to the Minneapolis Club.
Photo from user delhiapostille01, morguefile.com